As life goes on behind the bar...

SURVIVING ODDS

As life goes on behind the bar...

tough act: A bar girl. dh photos by Anand Bakshi Life for them has been all about raising the bar. They have the looks and the daring that goes with that. They quench the thirst for headiness.

Ask any bar girl did she indeed have to take this profession just for the big bucks, they make in just a few hours and the common refrain is: ‘Why can't we have the right to choose what we want to?"

Metrolife interacted with a cross-section of the bar girls in the City most of whom consider their profession just as respectful as any profession can be.

Married and settled down rather well, Shraddha Nanda says it was the passion to sing that prompted her take up a bar girl’s job in the heart of the City. “There’s no stress and there’s good money. There’s no effort that goes into it. All that one has to do is to stand pretty and look good,” she reasons. Do they face harrassment of any kind? “Today harassment is there in every profession, isn’t it? Even what you call harassment has different connotations. It all depends on how you deal with it,” says Shraddha.   

The City's bargirls are mostly ferried in from far off places and looked after by people, mostly in the hotel industry. Their employers double up as local guardians. All their needs are taken care of. But these women are not allowed to stray out by themselves and are accompanied by someone, mostly a henchman belonging to some hotelier. Radhika, who is one among the popular bar girls in a dance bar near Majestic Bus Stand, says that she clocks to work at 8 pm and returns by 1 am. “We stay indoors through the day. Our basic needs are taken care of so the need to socialise doesn't arise at all. We watch television through the day and freshen up for work towards the evening,” says Radhika.  

The bar girls admit they neither stir out of their homes nor have too many interactions with people, lest they be misunderstood. They say they are free to go back to their hometown whenever they want. There's no contract that binds them. “Financial constraints and commitments back home forced me into this profession. My parents don’t know that I work here. All that they know is that they get good money at the end of the month,” says Swarnalatha, who works for a dance bar on M G Road.  

Talking about keeping their bar girls happy, hoteliers say that the girls have to look pretty and serve liquor according to the customers’ requirements. “The best looking of them all gets the most money and most response for the day. It all depends on how they carry it off,” explains Sharath Kumar, a hotelier. He further reasons that most of these girls are brought in from Nepal, Mumbai, Bihar and Hyderabad. “They are paid a salary every month and the tips that they get are shared between the agents and the girls,” he says.

Chandrashekar Rao, a bar owner in Malleswaram points out that song and dance might be prohibited but “our customers are attracted by song and dance. We get our moolah from that. So the girls do end up singing and dancing,” he wraps up.

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